A rural family near Chatham have launched a lawsuit against a nearby wind farm, claiming it has damaged their health and devalued their property. Lisa and Michel Michaud, and their adult children, have launched the lawsuit against the Kent Breeze wind farm, which was developed by a unit of Suncor Energy Services.
They are seeking an injunction that would shut down the operation, as well as damages totaling $1.5 million plus other costs.
Their statements have not been tested in court; they could be challenged by the defendants, and amended or deleted.
The lawsuit follows a decision earlier this summer from Ontario’s environmental review tribunal, which allowed the wind farm to proceed.
But the tribunal said its decision was not the last word on the controversy over wind farms.
“The debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans,” the two-member panel wrote in its decision.
“The evidence presented to the tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents,” it said.
“The question that should be asked is: What protections, such as permissible noise levels or setback distances, are appropriate to protect human health?”
The Michauds live on a 12.5 acre property near Thamesville, with a house and barn they built themselves. Michel Michaud runs a home renovation company. The couple and their children, in their 20s, also raise goats, chickens, turkeys peacocks and ducks. They plan to start a bed and breakfast.
But they say the wind farm, which started up in May with eight large turbines, has changed their lives.
The closest turbine is 1.1 kilometre away, but the Michauds say a “tunnel effect” from the row of turbines stretching into the distance compounds the impact on their property.
Current Ontario regulations allow turbines within 550 metres of a dwelling.
The Michauds say the wind farm exposes them to “audible and inaudible noise, low frequency noise and light flicker that negatively affect their health, cause vertigo, annoyance, sleep disturbance, despair and exhaustion.”
Michel Michaud says the turbines also affect his ability to concentrate, causing him to make mistakes at work.
“We want our lives back,” Lisa Michaud said in an interview.